Monday, December 10, 2007


Xena: Mock Execution Princess?

In many episodes of the tv show Xena: Warrior Princess, Xena cut off the flow of blood to the brains of her enemies to interrogate them. From the second she started, the victims had roughly 30 seconds to live.

Yet no-one's referred to it as a mock execution or torture, or said that she shouldn't be doing it.

In the show, the techniques are useful, and are done for the "greater good", rather than being done needlessly.

Does this mean that the show promotes torture, or that the viewers are ok with it? Perhaps because it was being done mostly during the Clinton administration?

I don't think so. Xena, like many vigilante (anti-)heroes, acts outside of our sense of ethics. As well as blood deprivation, she sometimes killed her enemies when she didn't really need to do so. She did what many of us idly wish would happen to the bad guys. They "have it coming". But when it comes to real life, we realise we can't act in this way. Asking whether terrorists "have it coming" clouds the issue. The right question is whether allowing torture is a good idea, and the answer is no.

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